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Arts & Entertainment

Roller Coaster-Like Sculpture at Drexel Inspires Leah Stein Dance Company’s Fringe Festival Performance

September 8, 2014

Installation artist Jeremy Holmes' "Convergence" will serve as the setting for a performance by Leah Stein Dance Company, as part of the Philadelphia FringeArts Festival.
Installation artist Jeremy Holmes' "Convergence" will serve as the setting for a performance by Leah Stein Dance Company, as part of Philadelphia's Fringe Festival.

“Imagine the largest-ever unspooling of Christmas ribbon candy made of hard yet pliable maple. Or a flexibly reedy roller coaster fashioned from walnut and coiling through the expanse of a white gallery. Or a three-dimensional, 1,400-foot-long line drawing made of pine, floating in space.” –Philadelphia Inquirer

This massive ribbon-like wood sculpture by installation artist Jeremy Holmes, currently on display in Drexel University’s Leonard Pearlstein Gallery of the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, will serve as the setting for “Splice,” a new work by Leah Stein Dance Company from Sept. 18- 21, as part of the Fringe Festival presented by FringeArts.  

In “Splice,” audience members are invited to step into the installation, which was designed by the artist specifically for the Pearlstein Gallery.
In “Splice,” audience members are invited to step into the installation, which was designed by the artist specifically for the Pearlstein Gallery.

The Pearlstein Gallery’s Marnie Lersch, gallery assistant and a graduate student in the Westphal College’s arts administration program who curated the exhibit, initiated the collaboration.

“Marnie saw our work and wanted very much for us to create a new work with this particular artist's installation because she could see that we share similar concerns about how we engage in space, the interaction of animate and inanimate objects and the spatially all-encompassing quality of our work,” said Artistic Director Leah Stein, who taught dance as a visiting professor at Drexel this past year and will continue teaching on a part-time basis this year.

According to Stein, the piece, which features four dancers, is about the nature of the space. “There is a tension between wood as we know it with architectural, structural properties and the transformation of the wood into a floating, suspended, movement-filled presence,” she said. “I feel and sense the movement of the room because of the sculpture. Our bodies, as dancers, naturally respond to this stimuli and we find many connections, physically and metaphorically, to the work.”

In “Splice,” audience members are invited to step into the installation, which was designed by the artist specifically for the Pearlstein Gallery.

“I was inspired by the movement inherent in the design of installation, as it loops and connects the entire space, as well as how it shapes the space by the twists and turns of the ribbon-like wood pathways. It becomes less of an object and more of an experience. This is how I approach dance – not only visually, but in an all-encompassing capacity, so the audience can become part of the experience.” 

Performances will take place Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 20 at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. and Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for general admission. Student and dance pass admission is $15. To purchase tickets, click here or call 215.413.1318.

Holmes’ “Convergence” exhibition will be on display in the URBN Center Annex’s Leonard Pearlstein Gallery (3401 Filbert St.) through Sunday, Sept. 28. The gallery is free and open to the public during the summer from Wednesday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Beginning Sept. 22, the gallery will also be open on Tuesdays. A closing reception will take place on Thurs., Sept. 25 from 6 – 8 pm, which will include a conversation with the artist.

Using five varieties of North American hardwoods, Holmes explores the contrasts between the abstract shapes of bent wood and the geometric rooms the pieces inhabit. Holmes uses space in original and unexpected ways, filling voids in interiors that would otherwise go unnoticed and allowing the viewer to experience the work from within. His work pushes interactions between the viewer and site in order to evoke a renewed interest in a traditional material.

Holmes’ work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in the U.S. and Germany. His permanent installations include those at the Foothills Performing Art Center Commission in Oneonta, New York; the offices of Holland & Knight, Washington D.C.; and One Madison, East 22nd Street, Manhattan, New York. In 2011, Holmes was named the CAP Fellowship Award Winner for Tompkins County in Ithaca, New York. In 2008, he was named the Wingate Fellowship Award Winner.                          

Holmes grew up in Cooperstown, New York, and studied at the State University of New York at New Paltz, where he graduated with a BFA in Sculpture in 2007. He currently lives and works in Ithaca, New York.

About Leah Stein Dance Company
Leah Stein Dance Company (LSDC) connects people from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, age groups, and communities through the creation of site-specific dance that enlivens a sense of place. LSDC integrates improvisational methods and invites audiences to be part of the performance space; this shared experience among performers and audience is at the heart of LSDC dances. The company actively investigates the interrelationships between body, sound and site, and develops and maintains strong collaborations with musicians, singers, visual artists and local communities. For more information about upcoming performances, visit:

About Drexel University’s Dance Program
The dance program at Drexel is founded on the belief that the act of dancing offers an opportunity to grow intellectually, emotionally and socially, in addition to physically. The curriculum is designed to guide each student in developing their own unique artistic voice. Students are exposed to a wide range of dance techniques and approaches through performances, intensive classes and community participation. For more information, click here.

About the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery
The Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, part of Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, is committed to exhibiting novel and experimental art in all contemporary mediums including digital, video, sculpture, photography, graphics and fashion design. Located in Westphal College’s renovated URBN Annex, the Pearlstein Gallery has over 3,500 square feet and invites the public to view exhibits free of charge. For more information, click here.

FringeArts supports artists and brings the world’s newest and most cutting-edge cultural experiences to Philadelphia, amplifying the vibrancy of the city as a renowned cultural center and an unparalleled place to live, work and visit. Founded in 1997 and formerly known as the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe, the organization serves local, national and international artists of all disciplines and levels of achievement through an annual 18-day Festival (this year, Sept. 5-21, 2014) along with a year-round series of high-quality contemporary dance, theater and music performances; commissioned public art installations; and a residency program that continues to expand and grow as a state-of-the-art incubator for artists. FringeArts’ now completed headquarters in Old City Philadelphia features a 240-seat theater, studio space, and the restaurant, bar and beer garden La Peg from celebrated chef Peter Woolsey. The new waterfront home is the site of a new fusion of cutting-edge performance art and contemporary cuisine, with a stage for cabaret-style performances year-round. Visit for tickets and more information.

Media Contact:

Alex McKechnie